Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

Blumenthal, Karen.  Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition.  2011. 160pp.  Lexile: 1250 

Blumenthal opens her compelling narrative with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Chicago., then goes back and explores the causes of Prohibition, covering the growth of saloons and the protests of women through the Temperance movement.  She weaves in fascinating historical details like the fact that George Washington bought drinks for his supporters at the polls. Al Capone merits an entire chapter in looking at the growth of violence and gangs.  While the author acknowledges the strength of the arguments that lead to Prohibition, ultimately the book concludes that the law resulted in an increase in lawlessness, a change with long-term effects.  Blumenthal explores social and political aspects of the time such as Carrie Nation’s use of violence to advance the Temperance cause, and the shrewd political strategies that got the law passed.  Black-and-white photographs are abundant; back matter includes a glossary, endnotes, and a bibliography.

Reading Std #7:  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, visually and quantitatively, and in words.  Compare this book with Ken Burns’s PBS series “Prohibition,” one or all of the episodes.  Note the use of some of the same photographs and compare their effectiveness in the two formats.  Compare which important figures from the time are emphasized in the two approaches.